Transbronchial Biopsy

This webpage will give you information about a transbronchial biopsy. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a transbronchial biopsy?

A transbronchial biopsy is a procedure to perform a lung biopsy (removing a small piece of lung tissue).

Are there any alternatives to a transbronchial biopsy?

An x-ray or scan can show that you have a problem.

What does the procedure involve?

Your doctor will give you a sedative to help you relax.

A transbronchial biopsy is usually performed in less than half an hour. Your doctor will pass a flexible telescope (bronchoscope) through your nose and down into your lungs. Your doctor will use the bronchoscope to examine your airways (bronchi). They will then push small forceps down one of your airways (a bronchus) into your lung. Your doctor will use the forceps to take samples of lung tissue.

Transbronchial Biopsy

Figure 1 - Transbronchial biopsy

a) The bronchoscope is passed into the bronchi

b) Forceps are used to take  samples of lung tissue

What complications can happen?

  • Shortness of breath
  • Pneumothorax
  • Bleeding
  • Developing a high temperature
  • Developing a sore throat, husky voice or worsening of a cough
  • Allergic reaction

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home after you have recovered from the sedative.

A member of the healthcare team will tell you what was found during the transbronchial biopsy and will discuss with you any treatment or follow-up you need. You should be able to go back to work the day after the transbronchial biopsy.

You should normally not fly for one month.


A transbronchial biopsy is usually a safe and effective way of finding out if you have a problem in your lungs.


Author: Dr David Baldwin MD FRCP

Illustrations: Medical Illustration Copyright © 2011 Nucleus Medical Art. All rights reserved.

This document is intended for information purposes only and should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

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